National Geographic October 2013, Part 2

The Changing Face of America, by Lisa Funderberg, photographs by Martin Schoeller

This article opens up with the assumption that all humans will find people of a mixed-race ancestry somehow unsettling. Even the most benign among us, we are told, will be curious about the mix of ancestry that led to, as Funderberg put it, “those eyes with that hair, that nose above those lips.”  I have to admit that I’ve never felt that way. I look at a mixed-race person and see, sometimes, a friend, or a patient, or a coworker, or a stranger (who may eventually become a member of one of those three groups). I also have had the experience of looking at a mixed-race person and seeing Alex’s cousin.

After Funderberg shakes off this rather curious opening the rest of the article is about the practicalities of mixed race, particularly when it comes to the United States census. There have, so far, been only two censuses in which respondents were allowed to choose more than one race, and this is the largest category of growth in the intervening ten years.

The article ends on a hopeful note that perhaps we can put aside this assumed discomfort and accept that people can fit into more than one box.

Now You See It, by Tim Sullivan, photographs by David Guttenfelder

Sullivan and Guttenfelder were part of a small group of journalists who were allowed to visit North Korea repeatedly over “the past year.”  Since there is no indication when this article was actually written, and it was published in an issue dated October 2013, I assume that “the past year” was 2012, more or less.

In Now You See It, we see some of the things that Sullivan and Guttenfelder saw during their visits to North Korea, including things that they shouldn’t have seen, such as a potholed street with darkened buildings. We also hear the questions that Sullivan was unable to ask, such as inquiries into whether North Koreans have freedom of religion and whether the couple that they meet who were given a luxury apartment for the wife’s productivity at work actually live in that apartment.

I kind of eat up stuff on North Korea.  I do, after all, want to go everywhere, and North Korea truly is “somewhere.”  And, being an American, I know that even if I am granted entry into the country, my stay will by necessity be a brief one.  So, I read what I can, and look at pictures, and try to understand their lives as best I can.

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